Slow starts plaguing Loyola
Loyola’s 3-1 start masked a serious concern: the team’s lethargic starts.
In all four contests thus far, the No. 15 Greyhounds have either trailed or been tied at halftime. Eventually, the team made adjustments in the second half, but a 7-0 deficit at intermission against then-No. 11 Duke on Friday night exposed Loyola’s vulnerability.
Coach Charley Toomey conceded that the coaching staff has done considerable soul-searching and has been tweaking the team’s pre-game routines.
“As coaches, we’ve tried to look at things that we do in our pre-game and are considering maybe shortening it up and how we go about our time before the game,” he said Tuesday. “But we’ve really had some seniors step up this week and say the right thing. You’ve got to come out and you’ve got to be excited to play. Don’t get me wrong, our kids are. But now it’s a sense of concern in our locker room that we need to get out and we need to play fast. We can’t play from behind. Our defense, there seems to be a lot of pressure on them to play every possession and not with a lead. We’d like to be able to play with a lead for a while.”
Toomey is convinced that Loyola just needs to convert a few opportunities early in games to get the ball rolling. Playing with a lead benefits both the offense and defense, he said.
“It just takes a lot of pressure off every possession,” Toomey said. “You can play with a little bit of a swagger. You’re not playing as tense. You’re not worried about making a mistake. And you’re going out and seven guys in the defensive end can be on the same page. Your goalie’s not worried about making a mistake. He can go out and have fun and not play on pins and needles.”
The Greyhounds will try to take different path on Wednesday night against No. 17 Denver at the Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore. But they will likely do so without senior attackman Eric Lusby, who has sat out the past two games due to lingering issues from knee surgery in the offseason.
“He’s still fighting that knee injury,” Toomey said of Lusby, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his right knee in the program’s first-round loss to Cornell in the NCAA tournament last May. “We tried to get him out there for the first couple of games, and he was really limited. He’s jogging with the trainer, and we miss his shot. We miss him on the offensive end. He’s certainly day to day, but he’s not ready to compete at this point. He can’t do it physically.”